Why innovators struggle and please stop yelling at them!

There are two ways of thinking about technology. These two go back to the very beginnings of what we now call IT. The reality of is the network up or is the network down. The adage electronics only fail when they are on, or build redundant systems to avoid failure points, remain the same now as they have been for many eons of IT systems.

The thing is, it isn’t always that way. Yes, we can build systems that designed from the ground up to consider and effectively create a path to success. But the reality all things fail, including manual systems that rely on users. What happens when Bob, isn’t around? This is where the reality of CSTEAM comes into play. STEM education and now STEAM gets us a framework for education. How do we deliver training to users that are not only targeted but also efficient!

We use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) and provide that via a connected environment that encourages information flow. I call this reality CSTEAM. It encompasses concepts shared in three of my books in the past years.

• The Syncverse

• The Innovators Dilemma

• Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer

The reality of information flow is value. One of the trends in the past five to ten years is the move of innovators away from big business. They have begun the transition to crowdfunding projects. But the risk for the project creator is the reality of the harsh world of crowdfunding. I have watched campaigns start, and the sue birds didn’t even let the campaign finish. I have seen massive social media campaigns started against campaigns. Plus, with a company (IBM) that is struggling to find its way in the digital world now diving directly into crowdfunding as an Indiegogo Partner, I think at best the ground is unsteady now.

If information is the critical piece, then how it moves within the system becomes the end game. Most people don’t know that you need to balance not only your total addressable market (TAM) but also the COGs (or cost of goods sold). We don’t always think about the fact that making something requires a manufacturing plant (or our garage)time, effort and shipping. It also requires advertising, contingency systems and if there is a software element, developers. So TAM and COGs become the worst enemy of getting a product shipped.

CESAll of this then baked around the other reality of innovation. You aren’t building all of the systems in the crowdfunding world for your eventual market. In fact, you are building a much smaller amount. Your cost per unit will be lower later. Your profit margin will be higher. The Boston Consulting Group and the experience curve have shown this to be true over and over. The more you build, the better you get at the building. But when you are small, struggling to get that project across the ever moving finish line, it is hard to step back and smile. You are the little guy, not the mythical David with a shot at bringing down Goliath; there are many other metaphors that fit better here. The best one is you are 4, and the cookie jar is a way to high to reach without an adult. When you are a small company, you are beholden to the manufacturer. They, control your destiny. You, sadly, have little if any impact on their destiny so as they tell you about delay after delay the best you can do is smile and nod.

That information about manufacturing and how it works is not available when you are outside the confines of a large R&D department. Well, it is available, but it is not written down and easy to get to if you aren’t in the safe confines. You have to know where it is.

The reality of innovation is you are taking a chance. A CSTEAM system for innovations would be something of value. I think I know exactly what it would look like!


Innovator, dreamer